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VIETCONG IS SUPPORTING FORCE BEHIND VIETNAM CONFLICT
Senator HICKENLOOPER. In connection with your entire statement here about the activity of the North Vietnamese, the flow of goods and the supplies which come in, is there any question in your mind but that North Vietnam, that is the Vietcong, is the sustaining force behind the conflict in South Vietnam!
Mr. SALISBURY. There is absolutely no question in my mind, and indeed they make no bones about this over there.
Senator HICKENLOOPER. So that it is not simply a revolution within South Vietnam; it is a movement of the North Vietnamese against the existing regime in South Vietnam?
Mr. SALISBURY. I think I would describe that in a little bit more complicated way. I would say that perhaps, and I am not so sure of these fact, and I don't want to be I wouldn't want to be pinned down on them, perhaps the movement began in the south without the north being involved in it, but that the north became more and more involved and now is, as you say, involved in it to the point of being the principal supplier of materiel, munitions and things of that kind, food, but not the principal supplier, of course, of manpower. That mostly is indigenous.
EVIDENCE OF CHINESE IN NORTH VIETNAM
Senator HICKENLOOPER. Did you find any evidence there, Mr. Salis
. bury, that the Chinese are in North Vietnam with troops or cadres or labor battalions or any units of that kind ?
Mr. SALISBURY. I didn't see any such units myself, and I asked about them, of course. I couldn't get firm evidence on that except that there is a general impression among the foreigners—and this goes for both the westerners and the easterners in Hanoi-that there are no Chinese military units there.
There is, however, a general impression-and again, as I say, this is hearsay—that there is probably--there are probably Chinese railroad labor battalions or units stationed along the railroad in the north to keep that railroad running that comes down from China.
Senator HICKENLOOPER. Are there any service battalions there of any kind to maintain equipment and service military equipment or electrical equipment, let's say!
Mr. SALISBURY. I would think not, because I don't know of any major military equipment or electrical equipment that comes in from the Chinese. "I didn't see any, and I didn't hear of any.
DURATION OF VIETNAM STRUGGLE
Senator HICKENLOOPER. If the North Vietnamese withdrew their snpport for this activity in Vietnam generally, how long would the struggle in South Vietnam last, in your judgment?
Mr. SALISBURY. I would hate to predict how long it would last. I think it would continue on a reduced scale probably much as the struggle would go on in the north if they had to go on without aid. I doubt very much if these people would give up in our generation. Senator HICKENLOOPER. I see. That is all, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Senator Mansfield?
REBUTTAL TO ALLEGATIONS
Senator MANSFIELD. Mr. Chairman, I am just listening and learning. I want to make one comment.
I am delighted, Mr. Salisbury, that you have had this chance to refute some of these allegations which were raised against you, not only on the basis of your first dispatches from North Vietnam, but on the series, as a whole. It appeared to me that, in effect, there was a vendetta being waged against your stories, and I am delighted that you have had a chance in an open forum to rebut some of those statements.
SOURCE OF INFORMATION ON CASTALTY FIGURES
I have one question to ask: Insofar as American correspondents in South Vietnam are concerned, to whom do they go to get the lists of casualties and the type of casualties which are inilicted? Mr. SALISBURY. Well, Senator, I think this is rather dimicult.
So far as American military casualties are concerned, they receive tho from our own military authorities, and there are regular lists, as you know, published every week.
Now, when you come to the question of casualty figures from the South Vietnamese forces themselves and then from the rather cloudy area of South Vietnamese civilians, the best evidence on that that I have seen was a story which appeared in the New York Times, I believe yesterday, by Neil Sheehan in which for the first time I saw some rather detailed figures on the civilian casualties, and I believe that this was the product of a number of inquiries that had been made over a period of about a year before these statistics had finally been produced.
Apparently there is no common source for figures of this kind.
Senator MANSFIELD. To carry that one question a step further, the correspondents themselves do not go out and count the dead and the wounded to check whether they are civilian or military.
Mr. SALISBURY. No, they do not.
Mr. SALISBURY. Yes, sir; that is correct.
ARRANGEMENTS FOR TRIP TO VIETNAM
Senator AIKEN. Mr. Salisbury, who made the arrangements for your trip to North Vietnam?
Mr. SALISBURY. The trip to North Vietnam? I made the arrangements myself, I conducted the negotiations myself, with the North Vietnamese authorities, I made my own application for the visa last June, and conducted a correspondence over the period of time that ultimately resulted in it.
Senator AIKEN. Where did you find North Vietnamese authorities to make arrangements with?
Mr. Salisbury. The first ones that I was personally in contact with outside of cables and letters was the consulate in Pnom Penh, in Cambodia.
Senator AIKEN. Pnom Penh?
Mr. SALISBURY. I stayed in a hotel which used to be called the Metropole and is now called the Reunification Hotel.
Senator AIKEN. How did you pay the bills?
Jr. SALISBURY. I paid my bill in dongs, which are the currency there, which I obtained by exchanging dollars in the state bank for dongs.
Senator AIKEN. That is in Hanoi ? Mr. SALISBURY. In Hanoi. Senator AIKEN. And who decided where you should go to observe what was going on in North Vietnam?
Vír. SALISBURY. I put in requests to the Foreign Office for permission to visit certain types of facilities, certain types of areas without, in most cases, specifying an individual one or a particular facility since I wanted to avoid the suspicion in their minds that I was acting as an intelligence officer. I wanted the categories but not the specified point.
Senator AIKEN. I read somewhere that you only saw the spots where damage from bombing had been greatest and where there had been civilian damage. Is that correct?
Jír. SALISBURY. No, Senator, that is not correct. I saw a great many places where there was hardly any damage, some places where there wasn't any, and there were many places where there was much more damage which I did not go to see at all.
Senator AIKEN. Do you suppose the North Vietnamese Government would have been interested in showing you the rest of the country if it hadn't been damaged ?
Mr. SALISBURY. I think they might very well have. To be quite honest there were very few places in the country that haven't been damaged in one way or another.
ULTIMATE AIM OF NORTH VIETNAMESE
Senator AIKEN. When you were there, did you get any understanding as to whether the ultimate aim of the North Vietnamese was the uniting of the two Vietnams?
Mr. SALISBURY. They certainly have that as their ultimate aim. I think their primary aim is survival. They would like to unite the
I did detect some very definite indications that they are not sanguine about reuniting them even if there should be a favorable settlement of the war, for a long period of time, maybe fifteen, twenty years.
Senator AIKEN. Did you get the impression they would still be willing to go along with the terms of the Geneva conference!
Mr. SALISBURY. I suppose so. They said this several times, and I suppose one has to accept that.
I am not absolutely certain of that, myself.
Senator AIKEN. Annexation of South Vietnam would not be one of the conditions for terminating hostilities?
Mr. SALISBURY. Not at all, and they specifically denied that that Fas their intention or their wish.
ORGANIZED BANDITRY IN NORTH VIETNAM
Senator AIKEN. Does North Vietnam have organized banditry such as existed in South Vietnam previous to the sending of combat troops to South Vietnam?
Mr. SALISBURY. Not so far as I know. But I wouldn't say that my evidence was conclusive on that.
Senator Aiken. You said so far as you could see there was not any lawlessness in Hanoi itself.
Mr. SALISBURY. That is right. It seems to be a fairly orderly country.
BOMBINGS FOLLOWED BY TERRORISM Senator Aiken. I was just wondering whether the conditions there would be similar to conditions in China where it is reported that the rural areas would take one viewpoint and the urban areas another.
Did you get the impression that Hanoi and Saigon might be counterhostages? That the bombing of nonmilitary targets in the Hanoi area might be followed up by more terrorism in Saigon?
Mr. SALISBURY. I didn't get that impression there, Senator. I have heard that here, but I saw no—no one mentioned it to me in Hanoi and I saw no particular reason to think that that was true.
Senator Aiken. Now, it is apparent that following what might be described as civilian bombing, rightly or wrongly, in North Vietnam, that there usually was an increase in the bombing or terrorism in Saigon also ?
Mr. SALISBURY. It could be, but I just wouldn't know about that.
SUPPLIES FROM THE SOVIET UNION
Senator AIKEN. Where does North Vietnam get its oil ?
Mr. SALISBURY. The oil for North Vietnam comes largely from the Soviet Union but in part from Rumania.
Senator AIKEN. And you would say that most of the antiaircraft weapons also come from the Soviet Union ?
Mr. SALISBURY. The SAMs, the surface-to-air missiles, all come from the Soviet Union.
The larger antiaircraft, I believe, comes from the Soviet Union. Some small, light antiaircraft probably from China.
Senator AIKEN. But which type of antiaircraft weapon would you estimate was responsible for the heaviest loss of American planes ?
Mr. SALISBURY. Conventional antiaircraft, because the operation of the SAMs is at a high altitude, and they are very powerful, very dangerous weapons, and our fliers fly under them. When the SAMS are operative they come down low and, therefore, are exposed to conventional antiaircraft.
Senator AIKEN. Perhaps we give Russia too much credit or blame for the loss of 500 or 600 planes over North Vietnam.
Mr. SALISBURY. Yes, that may be true.
Senator MORSE. Thank you. Mr. Salisbury, I want to commend you for the factual reporting which we have read for the more than 20 years that you have served as a foreign correspondent abroad. I recognize critics sometimes do not like to face up to facts, but I want to thank you for the factual statements that have characterized your reporting for more than 20 years that I have read your accounts from abroad.
DISTRUST BY NORTH VIETNAMESE OF THE UNITED STATES
My first question is, do you really think it is unreasonable for the North Vietnamese people to distrust the United States ?
Mr. SALISBURY. I do not think it is terribly unreasonable.
You see, they do not see us as we see ourselves. They see us only in rather unpleasant manifestations, and from what they have seen of us we do not seem to be very friendly to them.
Senator MORSE. I asked the question because I thought the public would gain the impression that, in response to an observation put to you by the chairman of the committee, you seemed to answer in the affirmative that you thought it was unreasonable for them to mistrust us.
Mr. SALISBURY. I am sorry if I gave that impression.
But I want to make this observation so that your view could be made known on the record.
Do you think it is unreasonable for the North Vietnamese people to distrust a country that refused to sign the Geneva Accords of 1954 and then proceeded to ship large quantities of military supplies and large numbers of men into South Vietnam in open violation of the literal language of the treaty itself!
Mr. SALISBURY. Well, I do not know, to be honest. And forgive me for my ignorance. I do not know if this is exactly what we did. But the impression certainly of our conduct as a result of our refusal to sign the Geneva agreements did not get us off to a very good start with the people in the north.
Senator MORSE. We do know that the Geneva Accords prohibit the sending by a foreign power of military personnel and military supplies into either one of the two zones.
Mr. SALISBURY. Yes, I presume that is right.
Do you think it is unreasonable for people to mistrust the United States in view of the fact that at the time of the Tonkin Bay incidentand the history of it still has to be written-we equipped the boats that bombarded the North Vietnamese islands that happened to be the prelude to the subsequent action of North Vietnam to start giving open support to South Vietnam, and our country issued the official statement at first that our boats were 75 miles away, and yet they knew that our boats were within 11 to 13 miles away from the islands that were being bombed. They interpreted it, and rightly, as an American naval cover available for protection if these South Vietnamese boats got into difficulty. And it was only after those facts became known that we started to get some modification of the official statements of our Government.
Do you think this unreasonable for the North Vietnamese people to mistrust a country that issued that kind of propaganda when, with their own eyes, they knew where the boats were?